Open thread for AETV #899: Matt and Don


“You Worship That?” Don and Matt talk wonder why anyone would worship the Christian god.

Thomas True calls in to promote the Gateway To Reason conference.

Comments

  1. says

    Call 1: *bleaugh* Another tired let’s-find-a-gap-to-stuff-a-god-in call. Count me among the ones who find that shit utterly unbearable – I could smell the desperation of that poor sod trying to find something, anything, to cling to. And then ending it with “Well, we’ll just agree to disagree”? Uh-uh, no, that’s what you say when you’ve lost and won’t admit it.
    Call 2: When the main source for the story was the New York Post, a big red flag popped up in my head. The NYP is a far-right rag owned by Rupert goddamn Murdoch. (Remember the “Surrender Monkeys” headline? Yeah, that was them) Also, honestly, if you’re going to be as much of a bellend as that caller and yet still be totally without anything resembling facts, don’t call in.
    Call 3: NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE Not this shit again NOPE.AVI

  2. says

    wow that caller… talk about defining a god into existance……. even if both of them agreed… he still needs to prove it. and exercise of Mental maturbation

  3. says

    It seems to me that these semantic philosophy arguments always run into the problem of language (and Wittgenstein pointed this out so its not like philosophers aren’t aware of it. Most problems in metaphysics could be easily solved if language had a precise meaning).

    Words have different usages, different definitions, different meanings and different intentions, and they are not in any way fixed, precise, accurate or immutable. They evolve over time and are highly influenced by culture, nuance, dialect, intonation and intention. And when you try to use them to describe abstract conceptualizations, those intentions get lost amidst the meaning.

    There must be some sort of Godwin’s Law but for philosophy that states: As a philosophical discussion grows longer, the probability of it devolving into an argument over what words mean approaches 1. Because that’s how they always end: Misunderstandings, misinterpretations and misdirections. By that point you got to stop the caller because grinding back and form for 5 stupid minutes over the definition of “is” is not interesting.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    @Ishkur
    Philosophers are aware of the language issue, but people like Plantinga and William Lane Craig just don’t care…and instead exploit this issue dishonestly. In fact, I’m halfway certain that Craig’s diet consists solely of equivocation fallacies and his debates and “lectures” are just bulimic episodes.

  5. Narf says

    @4 – MS
    I’ve often said more-or-less exactly that. Every religious apologetics-argument includes either at least one equivocation fallacy or a massive argument-from-ignorance … often both. Craig leans heavily on almost every fallacy in the book, and he often engages in appeals to consequence … often right after stressing how important it is that we believe things for good reasons, rather than rejecting God because we want to sin, as those nasty atheists do. Craig dresses up his arguments in much better-sounding verbiage, if you don’t look too closely for the massive holes, but his background thinking is no better than that of a vapid moron like Ray Comfort, as he reveals in his elaboration after presenting the formal structure of his arguments.

  6. Monocle Smile says

    I can’t stress how much I hate any argument relating to “contingency.” It’s a useless, meaningless concept, in my opinion. I’ve gotten into a massive argument with a dude who was all about this “everything physical is contingent by definition, so there MUST be something non-contingent and thus non-physical ‘behind’ everything, and I call that god” argument.

    F that. He didn’t understand that you can’t just attach an attribute to a pre-existing definition and call it good. You have to demonstrate that the attribute actually applies.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    Also, the whole “conception” thing is grossly misunderstood by philosophers. We may be able to fool ourselves into thinking we can “conceive” of certain things, but most of the time we actually can’t. Large numbers are good examples. We can’t properly conceive of a million items in our brains sans physical observation. As the number of items goes up, our mental conception becomes less and less accurate. We can’t distinguish between a million and a billion things in our heads. So when the caller says we can “conceive” of the universe having different laws and different fundamental particles, he’s just plain wrong.

  8. Ethan Myerson says

    @7 MS – Quite right. What he likely means is “I can imagine a place where the sky is green and the clouds are made of cotton, therefore I can conceive of a universe that has totally different composition”. It’s the Large Numbers problem spelled out with macro-level concepts.

    The most frustrating thing about that caller is that he made his equivocation so transparent. Early in the call, he undoubtedly would have agreed that any human’s existence is contingent on that human’s parents, because that’s what he made necessity and contingency sound like. Later in the call, “necessity” included the definition of being eternal. Nice shift.

  9. Narf says

    @6 – MS

    … so there MUST be something non-contingent and thus non-physical ‘behind’ everything, and I call that god” argument.

    Ah, hello Argument from Ignorance. It’s good to see you. It’s been … well, okay, actually it hasn’t been all that long.

  10. Narf says

    @8 – Ethan Myerson

    Later in the call, “necessity” included the definition of being eternal. Nice shift.

    Sounds like William Lane Craig’s slap-together closing to his Kalam argument. There’s something about how the cause of the Big Bang had to be personal, in order to decide to create the universe.

    You have to demonstrate that the first cause had to decide to do what it did, before that statement is anything but useless. Where do you get decide? Let me guess: the Bible?

    When you glom on extra crap from step to step of an argument, without justifying the additions, you just look dishonest, trying to construct an argument with sleight-of-hand, rather than logic.

  11. favog says

    On the Christmas issue, me personally (and I stress personally; everybody else, whatever you think/do is your personal business) I’d love to join the party, but the parts I hate about the holiday trump the parts I don’t. It’s the old thing about a gallon of ice cream mixed with a teaspoon of shit. In this case, the shit would come in the form Christmas music, for one. I can’t stand it. The other dollop of poo is sanctimonious types who insist on telling me to keep Christ in Xmas because he is the Reason for the Season. You don’t get to tell me what I’m celebrating, and if you insist then we have to have separate parties.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    @Marco

    Some of the specific phrasing is identical to that of the caller, so I’m fairly convinced it’s the same guy.

    That post contains even more navel-gazing nonsense than the call. What we have here is someone that deals purely with philosophical terms and absolutely rejects empiricism completely. I can’t possibly communicate with someone who depends purely on “thinking really hard.” I especially like the stupid teleological quote from Paul Davies. Towards the end, he says “duration of existence does not affect a thing’s nature,” which is just flatly wrong. A duration of 0 is non-existence. Personally, I think existence itself appears to be a necessary state, which makes Steven’s head explode, but that’s too bad.

  13. Monocle Smile says

    Additionally, the conclusion of that blog post is straight out of WLC’s playbook. You can’t just define some philosophical bag of woo as “god” and then jump to a particular theology or even anything resembling an intelligent agent.

  14. says

    @Marco

    I stopped at this line: “(2) it is not of the nature of it to exist” — what does THAT mean? What kind of baggage is he smuggling through under his own special hazy definition of “nature”?

    And I’ve heard this argument before, about how things have natures, including God (ie: “It’s in God’s nature to be logical/moral/just/etc.”). It’s a perilous is-ought bridge that prescribes purpose and meaning to things when most things (in fact probably all things though there’s no way to know this for sure) don’t have any purpose at all. They just are.

    So when someone claims that it’s not in something’s nature to exist — how are they determining that? Especially when using something like the Universe that has no known standard of comparison with which to make such judgment calls.

  15. says

    @favog

    If you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen to it and you don’t have to celebrate. You have a choice. People who assert that anyone who celebrates Christmas in any fashion simply cannot be atheists are taking away that choice. I celebrate a wholly secular Christmas, as does the vast majority of the population. Christmas isn’t a religious holiday for most, it is a secular holiday. Pretending otherwise, which is all theists are able to do, just makes their arguments all the more ridiculous.

  16. says

    You know what? I’m sold.

    Everything is either necessary or contingent. Since the universe is contingent, it must have come from something that’s non-contingent and necessary.

    So what is this thing? Let’s just call it an egg. A non-contingent, necessary egg. The universe hatched from it. The universe’s ongoing contingent existence depends on those necessary broken pieces of eggshell.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regarding the contingency argument. It rests on metaphysical assumptions which I don’t buy, such as the very idea of metaphysical causation. For example, I more strongly object to something else at the beginning:
    http://christian-agnostic.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-argument-from-contingency.html
    > 1) If something is contingent, then it derives its existence from something outside of itself.

    I don’t know what that means. What does it mean for something to “derive its existence from something”? No idea. I don’t need that concept in science. The conception of “cause” which I need in science is more like “Every time I’ve seen the universe look like A, B follows” (plus some genuine attempts at falsification), e.g. the Humean notion of causation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_conjunction
    I don’t need to worry about “derive its existence” – whatever that means. I just need to establish reliable patterns on which I can base my expectations of the future.

    The entire thing is just a grand collection of unsubstantiated premises. I just hate that premise the most, because it underlies the whole wrong-headed thinking of the argument.

  18. Monocle Smile says

    @EL

    I’m fully with you on this. “Derives its existence from something outside itself” is woo talk bordering on word salad. To me, it just seems like a very outdated concept that ignores the reality that everything in the universe is just patterns of the same shit.

  19. Rich Rodgers says

    This method of proving god through tiresome jibber jabber just wears me out. It’s such an effort to try to follow what the heck he’s trying to say, spotting the place wear he’s palming the coin or dividing by zero, only to see him skitter off like a like a fucking spastic monkey with a thesaurus into some other insane self important crusade to reach linguistic nirvana. I’m happy that folks like Matt kind of enjoy playing definitional whack-a-mole enough to keep these people in their place. The Reasonable Doubt guys from Michigan are pretty good at it to. I would resort to smart assed frustration as soon as I figured out we were in a 200 level philosophy class with a christian who understand the X’s and O’s of philosophy but seemingly never went down the hall to the science or literature departments.

  20. favog says

    @Cephus

    On the first, it might be true that I don’t have to listen to it if there was someway I could wall myself up in my apartment for four weeks every year. Instead I have a job so that’s about 160 hours of Christmas music, at a minimum, per year. Almost half an hour per day if spread over a year. And as for not having to celebrate it, yeah, I know … and I have a long list of people that I’d love to have you explain that to, since they continue to insist that I must. As I said in the post, I was talking about me personally and what other people do is their personal business. I wish other people would respect that, but they don’t.

  21. Narf says

    @20
    For that matter, what if you’re dating someone who’s otherwise rational but insists upon doing all of this Christmas nonsense? Guess what? You’re going along for the ride, at least in part.

  22. frankgturner says

    With regard to the second caller and the story about the airline, I am reminded of a monty python piece.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQODVsl5pFY

    If someone did something like that on a plane for a while it would have no bearing on what they were talking about, people would applaud if the person was escorted off (although the sketch version is funny). Keying in on it being about “Merry Xmas” and quote mining it out of context is exactly what propaganda pricks would do.

  23. frankgturner says

    If anyone is listening (these thread seems to have died pretty quickly) I thought about something Don said in his beginning introduction. I thought of emailing them about this too.
    .
    For starters I doubt that the individual he was talking to who “had once been an atheist” had not really. I would guess that he merely considered the possibility that a god did not exist and never really gave it much thought. I don’t live in his head but I have seen that before. Further, when he claimed to have read the Bible cover to cover and not seen a problem, that pushed that thought even harder.
    .
    I worked with someone and I mentioned having read the bible and she said that I didn’t. When I asked why she made some claim about how if you read the bible it is supposed to give you this magical understanding and make you feel a certain way (like it makes you feel that it has to be point by point factually correct) that I obviously didn’t have. I tend to read things for the words not the way they make me feel. I am guessing that the person he spoke with read it and it made him feel that way, but never analyzed it to find the contradictions. Even if you engage in apologism you at least acknowledge that there are contradictions even if you claim that those contradictions come from taking it out of context. I would say that he needs to read it like a scientist and not like a politician.
    .
    Going in to the last thing he said about how Don worships nothing and the theist he was speaking with seemed to feel that worshiping something greater than oneself is a basic human need. To some degree I might be able to understand where the theist was coming from by applying things one knows about other primates to human beings.
    .
    Many social animals have a set structure, among primates this often includes a leader like an alpha male or female (among primates, more often an alpha male). These species probably did not evolve in such a way that an individual could survive on one’s own. It would not have been surprising for an individual who tried to survive on its own and not be part of the group to have been selected against and died off. When humans evolved from the previous ape species that we came from we may have brought some of that mentality into our genetic code. This is suggested by us living in small sub tribes to struggle for resources as a lot of early human history indicates. The idea of a god may very well have come from that mentality, a projection of the alpha leader as a personal god (also suggested by how early humans thought of gods).
    .
    Politically we developed larger and larger groups so unifying gods (just like unified traditions that are upheld in Judaism and Xtianity) into a singular god to better protect and allow people to survive may very well have come from that. Of course the mentality of the personal small alpha leader may have stayed with us and so the large singular god would have broken down into smaller tribal gods, particularly due to struggle for resources. This is suggested by what happened to Xtianity breaking down into smaller sub divisions who CLAIM to all be worshiping the same god, but in a way, they aren’t. By claiming that you are worshiping the only one true god and that everyone else is wrong you are essentially dissolving back into polytheism. So the many sects of Xtianity are basically, “Monotheist In Name Only.”
    .
    Of course at the same time we were able to survive without an alpha leader, maybe in groups but to some degree this is not necessary. So genetic drift would alter the mentality and those WITHOUT a psychological need for a projection of their desire for an alpha leader would also survive and promote THEIR genetics. I would think that we on this board (among others) are basically the result of that genetic drift.
    .
    Of course the desire to be an alpha leader and have people worship a projection of that same ego and psyche would also survive and still be there. So individuals like StB who are interested in people following them would promote the idea of their tribe being the one to follow. Essentially it is about power. WLC seems to indicate that too. WLC said somewhere that he does not expect his ideas to survive past him, which means he is more interested in his own power than what is really factually demonstrable. It would explain why he would be less than honest about the factual correctness of his ideas and honesty of his principles.
    .
    I would have asked this of the first caller, “Are you really interested in the factually correct, empirically demonstrable and measurable aspect of a potential deity as so defined in your ‘contingency’ principles, or it is more important that others obey and follow the orders of an imaginary being that you subconsciously equate with yourself in your ‘contingency’ argument?”

  24. Monocle Smile says

    @Frank

    Your co-worker sounds…interesting. I don’t even know how to respond to something that silly. It’s something out of a fantasy novel.

    I agree with your spiel about the “need” for worship or a god. This topic came up on Ask an Atheist, and one of the co-hosts made the point: “They think they can take their belief system, merely replace all the nouns, and then it becomes an accurate portrayal of our ‘belief system.'” This is a major problem when communicating with lots of theists…they don’t understand that our worldviews are typically different at a fundamental level, not a superficial one.

  25. Robert, not Bob says

    @Frank
    Muslims make the same claim for the Koran-that just hearing it recited makes ’em all gooey (therefore God). Not, of course, therefore a lifetime of reverential conditioning, oh no. “If you understood my faith you’d share it” seems to be a foundational assumption of most religions (I’d argue it’s generally true of science). Anyway, when Christians study the Bible, they’re actually using carefully written study guides that do their cherry-picking for them, not reading the book for themselves. I know I found some pretty strange stuff when I wandered off alone in the pages.

  26. Narf says

    @23 – frankgturner

    For starters I doubt that the individual he was talking to who “had once been an atheist” had not really. I would guess that he merely considered the possibility that a god did not exist and never really gave it much thought. I don’t live in his head but I have seen that before.

    This is one of those things that is too complex to sort out, without an hours-long question and answer session with the supposed former-atheist. Sure, there are real atheists who become theists of some sort, for whatever reasons. Even in those cases, though, in every instance, I’ve found myself looking at their reasons and just being amazed at the mind-numbing stupidity. Leah Libresco comes to mind, who converted to Catholicism because of “questions of morality and how one finds a moral compass.” In the same article, she expresses problems with “the church’s positions on homosexuality, contraception and some aspects of religious liberty.”

    So, essentially, she ran to a moral authority, with which she has serious moral problems. What … the … hell?
    I’d bet that there were many unstated reasons, including emotional blackmail and other pressure from her Catholic boyfriend, but I’m just guessing, and I doubt she would confirm my speculation, anyway.

    I’d bet that the vast majority of ex-atheists were apatheists at most … not even that much in most cases, though. I’ve encountered ex-atheists who were actually apathetic theists of some sort or other, once I actually picked their brains enough to get a feel for them.

    I think it’s the same sort of thing that we used to see with pagans, back in the 80’s and 90’s. Back then, witchcraft was the greatest claim you could make in your attention-whoring game of one-ups-manship, with your fellow born-again evangelicals, since Satanism and paganism were the leading-story subjects in the hysterical media of the time. Now that the New Atheism movement is seen as the biggest threat to our Christian nation, the greatest claim you can make for your life before Jesus found you is association with us.

    Further, when he claimed to have read the Bible cover to cover and not seen a problem, that pushed that thought even harder.

    Uhhhhhhhhhh, wow. Did he sleep through the whole thing, like I slept through Numbers, Chronicles, and the poetic books? How is that even possible? You’d think that all of the magic spells prescribed by the Old Testament might give him some qualms, at the very least.

    This is suggested by what happened to Xtianity breaking down into smaller sub divisions who CLAIM to all be worshiping the same god, but in a way, they aren’t. By claiming that you are worshiping the only one true god and that everyone else is wrong you are essentially dissolving back into polytheism. So the many sects of Xtianity are basically, “Monotheist In Name Only.”

    What came to mind, when I read this, is the tendency in lots of Latin American cultures to appeal to the Virgin Mary, instead of God or Jesus. That seems a bit like a development of polytheism, as you suggested, in an even more literal sense than what you meant.

  27. Narf says

    And speaking of Leah Libresco, this last quote from the article just leaves me staring, with my mouth open:

    “The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.”

    I was raised Catholic. That statement does not describe the church I was raised within. They weren’t very good at analytical thinking and providing answers that didn’t fall back on the mysteries of God several times per explanation.

    And looking at it from the outside, seeing all of the evil committed by the church, worldwide …

    Anyone who wasn’t brainwashed into the church as a child, who thinks that the Catholic church is somewhere to go with questions about morality, has a screw seriously loose, somewhere.

  28. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    I just read Leah’s conversion post on Patheos.
    I hate going to the “your boyfriend refused to propose unless you converted” well, but given the WTF nature of everything she writes in that post and in a few comments, it’s not like I have much choice.

  29. says

    It seems to me that the contingency argument is just a first cause argument. All the caller really seems to do is replace the word “cause” with “contingency,” in the hopes that using this slightly-more-nebulous term to express essentially the same argument will somehow make it slippery enough to wiggle through the cracks in the audience’s understanding.

  30. frankgturner says

    @ Narf # 26


    Further, when he claimed to have read the Bible cover to cover and not seen a problem, that pushed that thought even harder.

    Uhhhhhhhhhh, wow. Did he sleep through the whole thing, like I slept through Numbers, Chronicles, and the poetic books? How is that even possible? You’d think that all of the magic spells prescribed by the Old Testament might give him some qualms, at the very least.

    If you listen to the show, Don said that the theist “read the Bible from cover to cover and found nothing wrong with it.” Nothing wrong with it /b> is highly subjective and opened to a LOT of interpretation.
    – One might not find contradiction, even blatant oxymorons, to be “wrong” per se.
    – Alternately he may have done like Robert, not Bob suggests in #25, using study guides that do the cherry picking for them OR
    – that have apologetics explanations built into them for skeptics. Another co-worker had a study guide that went ahead and made claims that Adam and Eve had other children for Cain and Abel to marry and breed with, but that this would not have caused genetic abnormalities like we see today in children of siblings. … And naturally she was not the skeptic to search for what grounds those apologetics were making said claims upon (archeological digs, biological studies, etc.).
    -Alternately he might have just read it at a time when he was emotionally vulnerable and needed an answer and the Bible provided the answers he needed. He was not in a state to recognize that he had to read through a lot to find those answers, so he just ignored the contradictions becuase that was not what he was looking for. That would be characteristic of an apathetic theist, one who never really saw a point in believing until they were in a vulnerable position and once they saw a point in believing it they cared because it was important to them. They never really were agnostic though, they just never asked themselves or others for hard evidence to believe.
    .
    I sure do hope Don Baker is reading this, this is stuff to consider for future shows or if you talk to a theist again.

  31. frankgturner says

    @somnus # 29
    Actually the ‘contingency ‘ argument seems to be less about 1st cause and more about “continued cause.” The caller does sound like he reads a lot from WLC’s playbook though and Matt got him off script a lot, but usage of nebulous terms and philosophical semantics is a lot of what these apologists seem to go on since they have no physical evidence.
    .
    I would propose this to WLC if I saw him in person, he won’t debate with a person who is not a Ph.D. I agree with him, he should not be debating with scientists and physical causation or the philosophy behind physical causality as his Ph.D. is not in a hard science like physics or cosmology. If he is going to argue using the fallacy of argument from authority, then he has no authority on the subject and the physicists and cosmologist should not bother debating him. I am not a PhD myself but I may do that in the future, but unless WLC got a degree in a hard science he has no grounds ot be debating with scientists on scientific matters. Then again, I don’t think WLC ever would be a scientist as he does not think that way, more like a politician.

  32. Narf says

    @28 – MS
    That’s about the impression that I got from the whole situation, too. I didn’t specifically get the bit about marriage, but I didn’t read that far into it. Everything she said seems like post-hoc rationalization, because she was embarrassed for whatever her real reasons were. That’s what got me speculating about her Catholic boyfriend’s influence.

  33. Narf says

    @30 – fgt

    – One might not find contradiction, even blatant oxymorons, to be “wrong” per se.

    Well, sure. I guess you could toss all rationality out the window, if you like. I recall that Martin Luther had a quote directly to that effect, yes.

  34. noexitlovenow says

    Matt wasted so much time on and was so nice to the wanker with the cosmological argument (wank, wank, wank). Then he jumped down the throat of the they guy who didn’t like Christmas who I thought was slightly more interesting had he been allowed to say anything without being cut off and shouted over by Matt. He at least was talking about real things in the present. I would have at least like to have been able to hear a little of what he had to say.

  35. frankgturner says

    @noexitlovenow # 34
    Matt is better prepared to handle callers who do shit like the cosmological argument. And I would have had a different take on the second caller regarding Xmas. I would have asked him what evidence he had that secular Xmas was a gateway into religious Xtianity. Did he read a study done by some psychology group?
    .
    I would not argue that it is possible for secular Xmas to be a gateway to religious Xtianity, but it might be a gateway OUT as well. Many an Xtian I have known has begun to search for the origins of things like Santa Clause and Why Xmas is on Dec 25 and the like and been led away from Xtianity. If he has been a life long atheist, maybe he ought to be a lifelong skeptic and look for evidence of what he proposes rather than just supposition. I mean sure if you want to propose that idea that is fine, but be opened to the possibility that someone will ask for evidence.

  36. says

    @ frankgturner #31

    That’s where the nebulousness comes through. His view of “contingency” seems to be just “cause and effect,” but with linear time dependency stripped out of the definition. That makes it harder to grasp intuitively, which gives the author room to play on the audience’s confusion. But the argument seems identical in every meaningful way.

  37. frankgturner says

    @Narf # 33
    Well givne that this caller was working from WLC’s playbook and WLC’s proposal of the “inner witness of the holy spirit” comes out of Martin Luther’s playbook, that makes sense.
    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=5225
    .
    No one should bother talking to Craig, ever.

  38. Narf says

    Yup, that’s the biggest reason that you can dismiss everything that Craig says as bullshit. If the reason and evidence contradict the self-authenticating witness of the holy spirit, they have to be disregarded. That isn’t honest, and it isn’t a pathway to finding out what is actually true.

    The same applies to Craig as applies to young-Earth creationists, even though Craig isn’t one. They don’t need debates. They need educations, before it’s even worth letting them into a debate with the grownups.

  39. Monocle Smile says

    @noexitlovenow

    I really didn’t like that second caller and wish he would have been dropped sooner. Some of the discussion was okay, but as far as I’m concerned, AXP has already said everything about atheism and Christmas that needs to be said. Also, the caller was wrong about every last thing he tried to argue at the end and it just got annoying after a while.

  40. Narf says

    … AXP has already said everything about atheism and Christmas that needs to be said.

    *shrug*
    They’ve also said everything there is to say about Pascal’s Wager and the Cosmological Argument. Those topics have come up time after time, though, because there are always a few million more theists who think those are the most amazing arguments for their god — and only their god, somehow — and that they have to share the good news.

    You have to expect a bit of repetition, every year or two, with the contentious atheistic-caller topics, too.

  41. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I just listened to that “contingent” caller twice. It’s so hard to explain why the caller is wrong. I almost understand where the caller is coming from, but he just has such a completely different conception of epistemology and knowledge that trying to explain the difference is like beating my head against the wall.

    I think positivism is key to defeating the caller. The caller defines contingency loosely as: An object which has material (or super-material) existence as an “objective” fact of our shared reality, and which “could have been different” or “could have not existed”.

    By the standards of positivism, that’s a completely useless concept. All we can do with science is build predictive models of reality. For example, if we are brains in a vat in The Matrix, it may seem that the rules of physics are immutable and “could not have been otherwise”. However, that’s just because of our limited access to the rest of the natural world. In our accessible natural world, it is our truth that the laws of physics are immutable, but to someone outside The Matrix, they have good reason to know that the laws of physics could have been otherwise.

    In other words, science is never about ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is forever outside our access. Ultimate reality is forever outside everyone’s access, even a god’s. One can never know if the current accessible reality is the ultimate reality. In fact, that means that “ultimate reality” itself is a meaningless and useless concept under positivism.

    In other words, what seems like it may be a necessary being may only be the first turtle of a large stack of turtles.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down
    I have no problem with there being an infinite regress of turtles. I have no problem with there being a first turtle. I have no problem with there being a closed timespace loop of turtles. I have no problem with there being even more exotic alternatives because I know enough quantum theory and relativity to understand that I don’t know enough to know all of the alternatives. And even if I did know enough, that would still only be for my accessible reality, and these immutable rules might themselves be different in the larger, reality outside of my accessible reality.

    Any argument based on “contingent beings” and “necessary beings” is bullshit under the standards of positivism. It’s mental masturbation at its finest with absolutely zero connection to the world we actually live in, e.g. the accessible observable shared reality we inhabit.

    PS: If the caller wants to defeat my example that the laws of physics could be immutable and thus “necessary beings” by arguing he can imagine and conceive of different laws of physics, I can defeat him by saying I can imagine and conceive of the truth that there is no object which exists. There is no such thing as a necessary being. Everything is contingent – which is just another way of saying that the word “contingent” is meaningless.

  42. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And asshat caller takes issue with “empiricism” as the only way of knowing. And asshat caller doesn’t actually give and fully specify another way of knowing. And asshat caller says that skepticism is self-refuting. Classy.

    When it is said “You should not believe something if you don’t have good reason” or similar, and someone objects saying that the assertion is self-defeating – like the caller – then the person is an asshat. Just ask them why they lack a belief that they will find a fire breathing dragon in their garage when they go home. They have to be dishonest, or so ludicrously intellectually thick and indoctrinated.

    PS:
    Methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism is bullshit. I called into show 896. See my ranting in the show itself, and especially in the comments on the thread.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2014/12/14/open-thread-for-aetv-896-matt-and-jen/

    Here, we have Matt and the Christian both clearly agreeing that science uses methodological naturalism, and science is ill-equipped to deal with supernatural claims. Notice how eager the Christian is to affirm that concept. It’s because the Christian wants to insert other ways of knowing about the supernatural, which is bullshit, because the only acceptable way to learn about the material (or super-material) facts of our shared reality is empiricism, aka science, aka rational, evidence-based reasoning. Here, we see Matt playing directly into the hands of the Christian by granting the absurd premise that science is based on methodological naturalism.

  43. Monocle Smile says

    @EL

    Here, we see Matt playing directly into the hands of the Christian by granting the absurd premise that science is based on methodological naturalism

    Making me feel dumb, because I just got done arguing that this issue generally had no impact on real discussions in that epic post-palooza.

    Also, can I just say how annoying it is when theists of the philosophical variety try to pigeonhole people into strictly-defined little holes so they can torch a straw man? The caller specifically asked if Matt thought empiricism was the only way of knowing, which implies certainty and sets a trap. It’s a dishonest trick. Whenever I tell people like the caller that empiricism appears to be at least the best way of knowing and that alternatives fail miserably, their heads explode and they say childish shit like “well, you don’t even know what you believe, so muuuuh” because I no longer fit into their neat little box.

    You’ll note that Matt didn’t let that caller get away with denigrating empiricism and would have definitely smacked him down if “other ways of knowing” came up. Still, I’m only going to be tolerant of “methodological naturalism” so long as anything resembling an “other ways of knowing” argument is both brought up and strangled before the theist can get going. I have less of a problem with “science may not be able to investigate everything” than I do with “religion (or any woo) can investigate anything.

  44. gshelley says

    The contingency guy seemed to be throwing in a lot of the ontological argument into his cosmological one.
    One problem with this sort of argument is that it is so flawed, and depends so heavily on people not questioning the terms that there are many ways of attacking it.
    It did seem by his definition, that his own god is non contingent, as people can conceive of it not existing or being different. I’d have been interested to see if he thought that had any effect on his argument, but Matt destroyed it pretty much anyway.

  45. officalvillageidiot says

    I know this is a bit off topic. This is in reference to the vile attack in Paris by Religious Zealots on Free Speech, I believe its 12 dead. I fear that a small minority of fanatics are attempting to Force a Confrontation no matter what, with the Secular Western and it is not going to be pretty when Europe explode into Hatred and Revenge and unfortunately we are going to be forced to choose between living in Security and Safety or keeping our freedoms and rights.
    No Religion is above Scrutiny or Criticism and No Religion has the right to Violence against others for exercising Free Speech or any other Human Righs
    Without Free Speech we are all Slaves

  46. Matt Gerrans says

    @ #45 – gshelley, see also #7 from Monocle Smile; this has long been my refutation of the ontological argument. It can be shot down right out of the gate (even before getting to the complete and total nonsense of defining things into existence), because, in fact we cannot fully conceive of any being, much less one as complex as a god (who, it’s worth noting is not even very well defined). We cannot fully conceive of a worm! If you think you can, that only means you haven’t studied microbiology.

    This also reminds me of the kung fu caller a while back who claimed he was in tune with every cell in his body. Or was it atom? Or maybe even every sub-atomic particle? All 10^27 or so of them? Consider this paradox Mr. Zen Master: your brain would have to have far, far more cells than your body for it to be able to fully “conceive” every cell in your body.

  47. Muz says

    (heh. I heard “can’t prove supernatural causation” and I though “Thread Over!”. Not just yet)

    On a lighter note; I think that people who fret about the gateway drug of christmas really should just go to another country for a while and see that it is possible to not give a crap and still have christmas.
    Come to Australia, say, for a while and enjoy the relaxed feel of living somewhere without the constant fear of a collapse back into some past extreme religiosity.

  48. Curt Cameron says

    frankgturner wrote:

    I worked with someone and I mentioned having read the bible and she said that I didn’t. When I asked why she made some claim about how if you read the bible it is supposed to give you this magical understanding and make you feel a certain way (like it makes you feel that it has to be point by point factually correct) that I obviously didn’t have.

    Was she Mormon? This sounds like the Mormon claim that if you read the Book of Mormon you’re supposed to feel a “burning in the bosom” that lets you know it’s true.

  49. frankgturner says

    Pardon that i am responding to a lot of different people on a lot of different things.
    .
    @Curt Cameron # 49 an Robert, Not Bob (# 25 obviously)
    No she was (I say “was” as she works somewhere else now) Southern Baptist but was raised by Muslim parents. So that point # 25 made sense in that since the Koran did not make her feel all “ooey gooey,” then the Bible did, and she was likely brought up to think that way.
    .
    @Muz # 48
    So I have heard regarding Australia. Someone mentioned on one of the other boards how there is only one major super Xtian town, “Christchurch”?? (where either Ken Ham or Ray Comfort are from as one of them is a Kiwi apparently). Outside of that they mentioned something about how most Australian Xtians pretty much throw out the whole Old testament aside from the ten commandments and much of the New Testament aside from the Gospels which are cherry picked even then. They mentioned something about it sounding more like Buddhism with Jesus myths mixed in and I was going to say that despite the large number of fundamentalist bullshitters in the USA there are a lot of Buddhist with Jesus myth style Xtians in America. I was one of them for a while.
    .
    @Matt Gerrans # 47
    I wanted so much to be able to call into that show and as the “kung fu” caller if he knew what temperature, in Celsius, the surface of the skin was on his scrotum and what pressure it was feeling, in atmospheres. I found him to be such a load on that show.
    .
    @officialvillegeidiot # 46
    If their attitude is “we must win at any cost” (sounds a lot like WLC and StB at times), then of course they will force a confrontation when they are clearly loosing. It might be a good sign, if you have to get violent to even get people to consider your point of view being worth anything then you are clearly loosing when it comes to convincing people rationally.
    .
    @gshelly # 45 and Monocle Smile # 44
    His argument is flawed because he does not have any empirical evidence to go on and refuses to say “therefore, I don’t know.” The whole argument being made is based on fuzzy word definitions and philosophical ways of looking at things as there is no evidence to go on. In another thread I pointed out that science has only one dogmatic principle, observation. You accept what you accept as factually correct based on observation and true based on interpretation of that observation that fits an appropriate model. If other observed evidence comes along that does not fit with that model, you change the model. When MS says,

    Whenever I tell people like the caller that empiricism appears to be at least the best way of knowing and that alternatives fail miserably, their heads explode and they say childish shit like “well, you don’t even know what you believe, so muuuuh” because I no longer fit into their neat little box.

    , he is essentially saying that we accept as factually correct based on observation and base our interpretations which we accept as true based upon those observations. Trying to accept interpretation of something as true when it is based on nothing we have observed generally leads to faulty conclusions.
    .
    The only way for some individuals to shoehorn god into that equation, which they have decided that they must do because they refuse to accept a model that does not include that god, is to accept an interpretation of something as true without observable facts to base that interpretation upon to back it up. It is what WLC does and what the caller was trying to do as he uses WLC’s playbook. The caller should know that WLC is NOT a scientist despite debating with them. WLC is a politician.
    .
    @EL # 42
    The caller used a lot of WLC’s playbook, and WLC has pointed out a refusal to acknowledge the possibility of infinite regress. I have heard the “contingent” argument before but more from callers who like to claim that god is somehow not just responsible for a beginning but for the continued motion of every infinitely small particle in the universe. What is funny is that i have heard that from YECs who fail to realize that this would be a perfectly good reason to accept the possibility of evolution as it would indicate that it was under constant direction throughout time. It sort of sounds like something WLC would say as it allows him to claim that evolution is true and yet Adam and Eve could have literally existed at the same time.
    .
    @Narf # 38
    I have read some stuff that Craig writes in response to YECs and it is obvious that despite not <technically being one that many are fans of his. As a politician would play to his constituents by not directly telling them that he was sternly against an idea that they like, Craig does make implied anti-evolutionary statements. Craig certainly acts as though he has stayed he has not stayed well educated enough upon the topic to make an informed, scientifically minded decision about evolution based upon facts or hard evidence. In a nutshell, Craig is no different from StB in terms of message or principle. StB just doesn’t mind being an asshole about it. Craig just acts more polite and well informed so he can win constituents by sounding confident and friendly. If playing to the beliefs of the Westboro Baptist church would win Craig constituents, I am sure that he would do it and just act smoozy about it.

  50. gshelley says

    @Matt Gerrans/47
    That is one of my problems with the Ontological argument. If we take a fairly common formulation “Let God be the greatest thing that can be conceived”, not only is there no definition of greatest, but conceived is meaningless. Does it mean that your mind actual encompasses the thing, or do they just mean using the words “the greatest”, after which it all falls apart.
    Not to mention, we can even get sillier and say this disproves the Christian god, as if he is real, I can say “well, I can conceive of a god even greater” and by that logic, my god will exist as well.

  51. says

    @Monocle Smile

    I wrote a piece on Leah’s conversion a long time ago, she ended up responding to it on her own blog and it was rather ridiculous. I think I made the same kind of points that others were making at the time, that she didn’t convert based on logic and reason and a fair and critical evaluation of the evidence, she did it for entirely emotional reasons, which to me at least, is completely unimpressive.

    Here’s my link to the article and at the very bottom of the comments is her trackback link: http://bitchspot.jadedragononline.com/2012/06/24/much-ado-about-nothing/

  52. says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal

    The problem isn’t defeating the argument, it’s that the argument really says nothing. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that there’s this “thing” that is contingent and all the other things that the argument claims, we still haven’t found anything about this “thing”. The issue comes when the theist starts arbitrarily attaching characteristics to the “thing”, starts telling us what the “thing” wants and how we’ll be thrown into hell if we don’t follow the whims of the “thing”. How do they discover any of this? At best, they can argue that there’s this “thing”, they can’t even say if it was sentient, knows about us, cares about us, or is even remotely interested in worship. They have to take a massive leap of illogic to get from that “thing” to “God”.

    Don’t let them make that leap. It shuts every single one of them down, they either shut up and run away or they play the wholly unimpressive blind faith game. None of them worship the “thing”, they worship a bunch of nonsensical invented characteristics that have nothing to do with the “thing” at all.

  53. Monocle Smile says

    @Cephus

    That’s an excellent write-up. Learning about Leah’s background was quite informative.

    I read in her conversion post that she advocates a blend of moral Platonism and moral realism, and I think both of those are flatly incorrect (or nonsensical) in every conceivable way, so there’s already a big dividing line between Leah and myself.

    I also read Leah’s counter-post. I looked sideways at her opening, and her closing paragraph set off alarm bells.

    I don’t think skeptics-identifying-only-as-skeptics are lying, but I think they’re not putting all their cards on the table, which makes it a lot harder to be corrected if you’re wrong or convert your opponent if you’re right

    This is a less-blunt version of the bullshit that people like Frank Turek pull. Turek’s butthurt that atheists exist and are outspoken, and his primary strategy involves bootstrapping all sorts of other things to “atheists” (like materialism, which in Turek’s case is a caricature of materialism) purely so he can more easily attack us.

    Leah talks right past your fisking. She’s addressing an entirely different topic. She doesn’t seem to grasp that a skeptic is not required to defend their own personal philosophy or beliefs. While it may help and I’d like if all or most skeptics had a rigorously-questioned personal philosophy, it’s not relevant to religious criticism. I sometimes say that while hypocrisy is unbecoming, it’s not a logical fallacy, and that certainly applies here.

  54. MrPendent says

    Sweet jumping Jesus on an icy trampoline, I dearly hate these philosophical discussions about god.

  55. says

    @Monocle Smile

    Unfortunately, I see this a lot. People forget that there are just as many kinds of atheist as there are kinds of theist. Leah was, from what I saw, what I’d call a default atheist. She was born that way and never changed. It doesn’t mean she understood religion or the logical reasons to reject it, she was a blank slate. Then she got convinced to adopt a religion for entirely emotional reasons. Okay, fine, whatever, but that’s not the same as having achieved your atheistic position through a rational path, then finding religion the same way. Most of the “former atheists” that I see the religious holding up are the same way, never people who came to religion intellectually, always through an emotional path.

    I would disagree that a skeptic isn’t required to defend their own position, certainly they are, if they came to the position from a skeptical direction, they ought to be able to defend it skeptically. You can be skeptical of specific ideas and nothing else, but if you’re a skeptic, you approach everything in life from that perspective. That methodology is part of your nature. I think more people ought to operate that way.

    @MrPendent

    I agree with you, so many of these discussions have turned into little more than philosophical masturbation. Theists have realized that they can’t prove God is real, therefore they’ve turned to trying to define God into existence by playing silly little word games.

  56. corwyn says

    All these arguments seem (to me) to boil down to: “Something had to come first.” The trick for the arguer is to work their argument up to that very slowly, so that when they get to the say “…and I call that god” without seeming stupid.

    I would like to see Matt and company try to end run around that sometime. If someone calls in to argue Kalam or whatever, concede immediately that something came first, so what are the characteristics of a ‘first thing’. Are ‘first things’ generally simple or complex, for example? The second law of thermodynamics requires that complexity be proceeded by simplicity, does your proposed ‘first thing’ violate that? If so, how?

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Cephus
    I completely agree. For a Christian, even if they could demonstrate a first-cause god, all of their work is ahead of them to show that the Christian god exists.

  58. Narf says

    @53 – Cephus
    That’s the massive Argument from Ignorance at the end of every apologetics argument, which I was talking about, yes. Even if the rest of the argument was valid and sound — which they pretty much never are, anyway — they always have all of their work ahead of them, since they need to show how they got from the end of the argument to their god … or even just a god, in most of the arguments.

  59. Narf says

    @56 – Cephus

    Most of the “former atheists” that I see the religious holding up are the same way, never people who came to religion intellectually, always through an emotional path.

    Actually, I think that most of the former atheists that the religious hold up, like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, never were atheists to begin with. Not that I’m making a no-true-Scotsman fallacy here; I’m just sure that most of them are flat-out lying, after reading their caricatures of atheism and skepticism, in describing their pre-born-again lives.

    Then there are the amusing ones who disqualify themselves definitionally, saying that even when they were atheists, they knew that God exists, the whole time. You get some real ones, like Leah, but they’re almost vanishingly rare.

  60. Narf says

    @57 – corwyn

    “…and I call that god” without seeming stupid.

    Can’t be done, man. 😀

  61. Narf says

    @52 – Cephus
    Great article, by the way. Little bits jump out at me as just freaking absurd.

    We ended up making a deal: I’d go to Mass every week with him, and he’d go to ballroom dance class with me. And we both recommended books or blogs to each other that fueled our all-night debates.

    Like you pointed out: holy crap, what an unequal agreement. She goes to brainwashing sessions, and he goes dancing with her.

    The thing about not having any books to pass back for dealing with the “sophisticated” ideas of moderate theologians is also complete bullshit. Simple, basic skepticism tosses all of their nonsense in the bin just as quickly as that of fundamentalist evangelicals. They field calls from people with supposedly sophisticated theology all the time, on TAE.
    “Why should I accept your convoluted explanations over a simple reading of the text? You’re destroying the authority of the holy book, with your ‘sophisticated’ ideas, and your argument only works within an authoritarian mindset.” I’ve never gotten a good answer for that sort of question, except for replacing one authority for another, as the Catholic church does.
    Back in 2000 or so, she might have had a better excuse, but even back in 2008 or so, there were so many books, if you simply took a quick look through Amazon’s book section.
    As for “what we should believe, rather than what we reject”? Holy crap. Every hear of secular humanism? She apparently hadn’t.

    I didn’t even know that much about her background. Thanks for that. Okay, so she was a not-particularly-thoughtful, default atheist, then. Yeah, I can totally see how someone would convert to Christianity from that sort of position, particularly with the prodding of a religious boyfriend, with whom the relationship is about to crash and burn over religious differences.

  62. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    To be fair, I think it’s definitely the case that apologetics books severely outnumber books on skepticism. This is because religion doth protest too much. That said, here we have an atheist who has never heard of Carl Sagan, apparently, because “The Demon-Haunted World” is a bread-and-butter recommendation and well-known in atheist circles.

    Furthermore, to your point, I’d also argue that there’s no need to deal specifically with most “sophisticated” theological arguments because those arguments don’t actually address our fundamental objections. They address what apologists think are objections. Not one shred of “sophisticated” theology attempts to demonstrate the god with empirical evidence. It’s the same old bullshit in a frilly dress.

  63. Narf says

    To be fair, I think it’s definitely the case that apologetics books severely outnumber books on skepticism.

    Well, sure. The Christian apologetics books all just recycle the same arguments, though. Even reading the big names: Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, and Frank Turek, you can’t help but see the massive chunks of their books that they’re just lifting from each other. Norman Geisler’s and Frank Turek’s big book, I don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, is just a retread of the work of Josh McDowell.

    I could see the problem if you tried to find atheism books in a small-town, fundie-dominated area, in an independent bookstore. Leah Libresco is an internet personality, though. She had the whole internet at her disposal, and she says she couldn’t find anything. That strikes me as not trying very hard.

    Having the weird arguments — as she stated is the focus of her blog — is all fine and fun, but you should at least have a working comprehension of the basics, first. She clearly didn’t, and I don’t think she’s learned much in the past few years.

    Not one shred of “sophisticated” theology attempts to demonstrate the god with empirical evidence. It’s the same old bullshit in a frilly dress.

    Yup. “Okay, so you made up some more shit to try to Spackle over the massive holes in the authoritarian book you’re propping up. How do we know that your made-up stuff is true? No, ‘It sounds good to you,’ isn’t a reason to believe it …”

  64. Narf says

    @50 – fgt

    @Narf # 38
    I have read some stuff that Craig writes in response to YECs and it is obvious that despite not <technically being one that many are fans of his. As a politician would play to his constituents by not directly telling them that he was sternly against an idea that they like, Craig does make implied anti-evolutionary statements. Craig certainly acts as though he has stayed he has not stayed well educated enough upon the topic to make an informed, scientifically minded decision about evolution based upon facts or hard evidence.

    In this case, I think it’s a matter of evangelicals binding together along those lines, despite the heresy-worthy differences between them. When they’re threatened the way they are by modern science and cosmology, they circle the wagons and make alliances with those they would otherwise consider undesirables … sort of how they count Catholics when they’re trying to construct an argumentum ad populum, when otherwise, they consider Catholics damned to hell, at best; worshipers of Babylon, at worst. The sheep see Craig apparently using the findings of science against the godless, science-worshiping atheists, and they don’t look too closely at the details, such as what his arguments say about their young-Earth worldview.

    I have seen a couple of WLC interviews on Christian talk shows and such. He argues fairly strenuously for Old Earth Creationism, within evangelical circles, apparently. We just don’t see much of that, outside of the evangelical media.

    Maybe they’re attempting some sort of 1-2 punch, similar to what we do when we say: we have no reason to think that anything you believe is true … but even if it was true, that being is an immoral thug, and I would do everything in my power to oppose him. They could be attempting something similar, saying that even if all of the findings of science are true, God still exists. Of course it doesn’t work in their case, since they’re building upon an authoritarian foundation, but most of them don’t have the epistemological foundation to understand why it doesn’t work.

    I think that WLC is operating with similar impediments as what we saw in a recent comment by the pope about biological evolution, which they covered on a recent episode of Non Prophets Radio (I want to say one of the ones in December). The pope said something to the effect that biological evolution and common ancestry are true, but they require God to guide the process … which shows that he understands fuck-all about biological evolution and natural selection. I imagine that WLC would say many similarly stupid things about biological evolution and cosmology, if we somehow got him to detail his understanding of the subjects.

  65. frankgturner says

    @Narf # 65

    I have seen a couple of WLC interviews on Christian talk shows and such. He argues fairly strenuously for Old Earth Creationism, within evangelical circles, apparently.

    Which is why I say that WLC thinks like a politician and is less interested in any sort of philosophical truth that can be derived from correctness and more interested in power that can be obtained from having followers. Rather than taking a definitive stance on anything he tries to play the middle ground and talk out of both sides of his mouth rather than taking a hard stance on things. So in evangelical circles he will argue for YEC an outside of them he will argue against it, to get one group of sheep following him because they think he is for an idea and another following him because they think that he is for a directly opposing idea.
    .
    He said something in a blog post once about not really being interested in his legacy living beyond him, which told me he is only after power that he can obtain in his own lifetime. StB says something similar in his debate with Matt D. They don’t want to be agreed with or even contribute anything useful to this world outside of themselves, they just want to be followed. Their god is a projection of themselves, an ape desiring to be the alpha that wants to be obeyed without challenge. It is funny how Matt D talke about a god creating people just so those people would sit around worshiping them when that seems to be what WLC, StB, and Hamm all seem to want, people sitting around worshiping them. All 3 set up un-falsifiable positions which means that they want a game that they can’t loose. The way I look at it, if you can’t loose then you never really win either and if you want a situation that you can’t loose than you are insecure about loosing. I have said before that WLC is basically a modern day Martin Luther and Martin Luther seemed to be an insecure git with an inferiority complex that engaged in mental masturbation. So WLC basically does the same thing as does the caller.
    .
    I don’t really have a problem with

    They could be attempting something similar, saying that even if all of the findings of science are true, God still exists.

    Plenty of evolutionary biologists and geneticists are also religious, typically Catholics but I have seen a few others including liberally minded Baptists and Mormons (among who, if analyzed, believe something closer to what Catholics believe anyway). And plenty of Xtians are basically Buddhists with loosely cherry picked Jesus-Gospel Mythology like I mention before (#50). The difference is that they don’t want to sit around and be worshipped or have people sit around and worship them. For them it is not about power but actually having some sort of moral guidance.
    .
    What that claim that “even if all science is true, God still exists” does NOT do is demonstrate that it is the Xtian god that exists. Push that against Craig and he plays that, oh well the proof for that is even more inherent and too complicated to explain bit to AGAIN act like a politician and try to make a claim with such confidence as it should not even be challenged, but he is clearly avoiding giving details. If his feet were held to the fire I am pretty sure based on his previous claims that he has nothing, much like StB. That’s why I say that they and Ken Hamm all have the same basic message and ideas, they just put different masks upon it. WLC wears a suit and tries to claim that he is an authority and the sheep unwilling to take the time and effort to put his feet to the fire and who like the sound of what he has to say follow. That’s no so different from that pro-creationist moron in the lab coat on youtube that tries to sound all scientific and obviously has no idea what he is talking about trying to make scientific sounding claims for his bullshit.
    .
    I don’t know if you have ever seen the film “Final Cut,” with the late Robin Williams, but I think that is a great idea. That should be a requirement for even being a politician. You must have had a chip implanted in your brain that records everything that you have seen and heard and felt from birth (or a very young age) and you must submit it to public inquiry before running for office.

  66. frankgturner says

    @corwyn # 57

    I would like to see Matt and company try to end run around that sometime. If someone calls in to argue Kalam or whatever, concede immediately that something came first, so what are the characteristics of a ‘first thing’. Are ‘first things’ generally simple or complex, for example? The second law of thermodynamics requires that complexity be proceeded by simplicity, does your proposed ‘first thing’ violate that? If so, how?

    I doubt that they have really given good hard thought about their god, their “first thing,” and what it means to them. Ask them to define it and they will probably back track into deistic argument like their almighty WLC does.
    .
    Your idea of asking what grounds would a complex “first thing” precede a less complex thing is pretty good. I might go with something to the effect of, in order for us to have a probability of a first thing to have been present, there must be a hypothetical capacity for it to NOT be present (i.e.: falsifiability in a loosely Bayesian sense). On what hypothetical grounds is your first thing, your god, NOT there?
    .
    The idea of only getting a person like that to only tentatively accept their god is real or present seems to be their big issue. Their insecurity is such that they want an absolute to grasp on to and don’t want to accept the possibility of their god as not being absolute. It is what WLC oes in his whole “divine witness of the holy spirit” bullshit and what StB does in his whole “revealed in such a way as I can know” bullshit. It is the same basic claim of absolute knowledge. So go for the throat. Mkae them deal with their insecurity.

  67. says

    @60 – Narf

    Let’s be honest, all that is required to be an atheist is not believing in a god. Every child is born a default atheist, therefore every single religious person out there is, by definition, a former atheist. It’s a claim that can be made, I don’t find it a very worthwhile claim however. These people never talk about their reasons for being an atheist, why they rejected the idea of gods rationally, etc. It’s fine that they are former atheists, it doesn’t make their religious arguments any stronger though.

  68. says

    @67 – frankgturner

    You have to remember, and this is something the hosts on TAE point out all the time, these arguments aren’t the ones that convinced the theists to believe, these are things they came up with down the road, after they had already swallowed the religion hook, line and sinker, to use against non-believers who aren’t as gullible as they clearly are. That’s why the question is “what do you believe and why?” not “what do you believe and what nonsense can you come up with the throw at me?”

  69. frankgturner says

    @Cephus # 69
    I get that, the point is that when you ask “what do you believe and why?” the response you get is to the question, “what do you believe and what nonsense can you come up with to throw at me?”.
    .
    I think that many theists are not really being genuine with themselves about why they believe what they do. I think that they swallowed religion hook line and sinker because of a deep personal insecurity, an instinctive need for an alpha primate in their life (among other reasons). In some cases they desire to separate into tribes, to be superior and view themselves as above others an have control of resources to ensure their own survival and power. That is why monotheism did not prevent tribal behavior, it just broke back down into tribal behavior based on a single deity instead of multiple ones. Many protestant theists STILL see the god of others as not THEIR god, so it became what polytheism was in its tribal days.
    .
    What I am saying is, get them to face the REAL reason why they believe, not what they have been trained to say to others. I am pretty convinced that the REAL reason why many a theist believe as they do is NOT what they want to say to others, but what they DON’T want to say to others. That is the point of making an end run and holding their feet to the fire, or at least telling them that they need to be honest with themselves, completely and totally honest.
    .
    Try this line on for size, if your god is omniscient, that god knows what you are unwilling to say to me whether you choose to say it or not, you might as well admit it to others and yourself if your god already knows. More often than not, I think the reason why some believe as they do is not due to self honesty, but fear and insecurity.

  70. houndentenor says

    I celebrate whatever I damn well please. Someone doesn’t think I should? Okay. But I should care because why? If some atheists are going to play that game these deserve that “atheism is just another religion” bullshit that some theists try to play. There are no rules. The only thing that would disqualify someone from being an atheist is believing in gods. Why do so many people have a stick up their ass about Christmas (Christians AND atheists). Pull the sticks out of your asses and enjoy the party!

  71. officalvillageidiot says

    Can anyone help with this phrase, it has be running around my head for a couple of days I am not that educated so if anyone can clean it up to sound logical I would be grateful.
    If God is Omniscient Pre-Ordained Pre-Determined – does that mean that God can’t change his mind and if God can’t change his mind. then God doesn’t have Free-will and if God doesn’t have Free-will, is he then actually God.

  72. frankgturner says

    @ officialvillageidiot # 72
    The difficulty is indicating, in written form, where the pauses are located and the emphasis one should put on certain words. Let me try to convey in written form what this should soun like in spoken form.
    (The pre-ordained an pre-determined part is redundant so I leave one out).
    .
    If God is Omniscient and his actions are pre-determined
    (pause)
    doesn’t that mean that God can’t change his mind ?
    (pause)
    And if God can’t change his mind ,
    (pause)
    doesn’t THAT mean that God doesn’t have free will ?
    (pause)
    And if God doesn’t have free will
    (pause and dramatic voice)
    is he REALLY God ?
    .
    Maybe I could record myself saying this out loud and post it. (I am reminded of a monty python sketch here).

  73. Narf says

    @68 – Cephus

    Let’s be honest, all that is required to be an atheist is not believing in a god. Every child is born a default atheist, therefore every single religious person out there is, by definition, a former atheist. It’s a claim that can be made, I don’t find it a very worthwhile claim however.

    Ugh, I hate that argument in general, and in this particular case, it’s even more useless than usual. 😛 We’re talking about informed, thoughtful atheists … which maybe makes Leah Libresco closer to that default-atheist baby, but still not close enough for it to be entirely apt. 😀

    These people never talk about their reasons for being an atheist, why they rejected the idea of gods rationally, etc. It’s fine that they are former atheists, it doesn’t make their religious arguments any stronger though.

    Actually, a lot of them, like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel (I think Lee stole Josh’s story), do tell stories about their reasons. That’s how we know they’re lying.

  74. Narf says

    @71 – houndentenor
    Errrrrrrr, could you link that back to a previous comment or thought, man? That seems like it came totally out of nowhere, to me. 😀

  75. Narf says

    @72 – officalvillageidiot
    I dunno. It sounds vaguely like an alternate formulation of the sort of problem that Euthyphro’s Dilemma addresses. You could stick omnipotence in there, too. If God is omnipotent, then he should be able to change his mind, but that would break omniscience, possibly. I like the usage of freewill a little better, though, since theists love to throw that around as an excuse for all sorts of things.

    As for where it’s originally from: I doubt we could figure that out. I’ve heard versions of it passed around all over the place. It’s just one of those things. Unless we have a quote going back at least a few hundred years, pinning down who came up with it is a little rough. Hell, a few people could have come up with it independently.

  76. says

    @74 – Narf

    Unfortunately, words mean what they mean. Most Christians have never thought about their beliefs either, they just had religious crap shoveled into their head by their parents and have never given it a moment’s thought since. That doesn’t make them any less Christians than people who spend their lives studying the Bible. You and I probably don’t run into default atheists very often, they don’t run in the same circles we’re most likely to, but there are tons of them out there.

    I’ve also never been impressed by the “stories” told by McDowell and Strobel because they come off like stories, constructed to work on their particular audiences and probably about as true as the crap in the Bible.

  77. officalvillageidiot says

    frankgturner Thanks Mate if you could do vid based on it I will be wrapped, I am wondering if people understand what I was trying to get across

  78. officalvillageidiot says

    If you only have a philosophical reason for the belief in a God is true and correct, then you have lost all ready

  79. Narf says

    @77 – Cephus

    Unfortunately, words mean what they mean.

    Yeah, that’s why I included the confining adjectives. Bringing the religious inclinations of inanimate objects and pre-self-aware humans into the discussion doesn’t help in most situations, unless it’s a purely semantic discussion. I’m a fan of pedantry as much as the next person on here … probably more than most … so it should say something that I think it’s being pointlessly pedantic in most arguments. 😀

    Most Christians have never thought about their beliefs either, they just had religious crap shoveled into their head by their parents and have never given it a moment’s thought since.

    And we’re supposed to be better than them, in that respect. That’s why I probably wouldn’t have considered Leah Libresco one of my peers, even back when she was an atheist, if I had been aware of her at the time.

    You and I probably don’t run into default atheists very often, they don’t run in the same circles we’re most likely to, but there are tons of them out there.

    I don’t run into many default atheists or apatheists in general … or at least I’m not aware of doing so, because they don’t say anything on the subject. I only get involved in religious discussions in real life if someone else brings the subject up, and that’s always religious people doing so, unless I’m hanging out with people from one of my local atheist groups.

    Hell, default atheists are a very rare thing, in this country, and I imagine that a lot of them, like Russel, don’t remain so, because of the recent encroachment of the religious right upon the government of our country. Once they get activated, I would like to think that most of them become well-educated on the subject of religion. Those who don’t … well, we saw what happened with Leah.

    I’ve also never been impressed by the “stories” told by McDowell and Strobel because they come off like stories, constructed to work on their particular audiences and probably about as true as the crap in the Bible.

    Heh, ditto. They’re just more of the many usually-fabricated-or-seriously-altered anecdotes in their books, constructed in such a way as to prove a probably-fallacious point. Anecdotal lies are even more useless than anecdotal evidence usually is.

  80. Vaal says

    Well that show was another frustrating missed opportunity IMO. I felt let down both for the theist caller and the audience, as he wasn’t given much chance to actually present his argument.

    “Steve” (Steven?) in El Paso phones in with an argument for God, specifically saying he’d be defending a form of the cosmological argument – the argument from contingency, and he references Aquinas and Liebniz (insofar as this was the species of argument, but Steve would be giving his own version).

    I thought “great, I’m finally going to get to hear the atheist experience folks tackle this argument, rather than that done-to-friggin’-death temporal Kalam version.

    So it was disheartening that it became quickly clear that Matt didn’t seem to be familiar with this form of the argument -he kept going on about concepts and challenges to the caller that really just seemed ignorant of the point of the argument from contingency. When he asks “how do you rule out the multi-verse” that very question is moot if you are talking about the argument from contingency (as the caller was aware). Matt was saying that even if it could be established the universe was contingent, he knew of no way of establishing it was contingent upon a God vs various other explanations. But that is EXACTLY what the argument from contingency seeks to esstablish – but we weren’t going to learn that since Matt wasn’t giving the guest time to actually give the argument! Matt said that the type of arguments in question weren’t even saying a God was possible, probable or likely, but that “the only thing the arguments are saying is, this is conceivably not impossible.” But that is NOT the character of the contingency argument which seeks to demonstrate the NECESSITY of God, not some mere conceivability as Matt suggests. It may be an unsound argument, as I think it is, but IF SOUND the conclusion isn’t as Matt suggests it is.

    Then Matt brings up the thought experiment question of two possibilities for God, one who creates the universe and still exists, the other version creates the universe then ceases to exist. The caller, familiar with the actual cosmological argument he seeks to defend, RIGHTLY tells Matt the latter would not qualify as the God he is defending. Matt shouts him down saying “yes it would” on the grounds they are “identical” except on “ceases to exist after the event for which it was necessary.” Again, that’s simply misunderstanding the argument – still stuck on the temporal version of the cosmological argument. Matt repeats this saying “we aren’t talking about why something continues to exist, we’re talking about how something came into existence” which ISN’T the argument the guest wanted to make. Further, Matt accuses Steve of calling in to make the cosmological argument and then “you jump to something else” which is, again, ignorant of Matt to say. The guest WAS there to defend the cosmological argument, just not the TEMPORAL version Matt seemed to keep assuming as the only version there was under such a name!

    I’m just surprised that after all the time he has spent looking into theistic arguments, Matt’s replies indicated little awareness of the fact there have been historically both temporal (e.g. Kalam) and A-temporal (from contingency to necessity) arguments for God’s existence, known under the term “cosmological arguments” because both types argue from observing what would seem necessary to explain the cosmos (the atemporal version, of the type defended by the guest, only deriving from the fact the cosmos exists AT ALL not on whether it began or didn’t begin at some point).

    If only Matt would just…let the guest make the argument we’d have been spared a lot of straw-man wasting time.

    And that gets to one of my long-time frustrations with the show as a long time listener. All too often guests who call with an argument – especially theists – never get to fully express their argument and I can’t be the only one that gets annoyed with this.

    The strategy of Matt and (I think sometimes the other hosts) seems to be this: 1. Ask for the argument. 2. Guest begins argument…guest gets in one premise, if lucky two premises in and Matt is already raising objections to the premises.

    Now, I have to infer that perhaps the reasons for this strategy are along the lines of “If the opponent is employing an argument with premises we don’t accept, then we can just cut this process off at the knees by saying ‘look, you don’t even have to go further because we already reject your first (or second) premise, and if we do the rest of the argument can’t be sound or convincing anyway.”

    This may seem practical and expedient. But I find as a listener it’s liabilities are a big problem: calls get bogged down on initial premises and never move, such that we don’t actually HEAR THE FULL ARGUMENT and by then the host has thrown in the towel and said “we have to move on.” This happens over and over.

    Folks, we really have to hear the arguments. Let a guest lay out the argument and THEN go back to challenge whatever premises you want. That’s how it’s done in philosophy, and debates, for a good reason. There is always debate about every argument. In Philosophy, which Matt says he enjoys, most people can formulate a valid argument and so what inevitably happens is an argument is presented and one disputes one or more of the premises to show it is unsound. In any debate between two sides we KNOW that one side will be rejecting some premise(s) of the argument. That’s how this goes.
    But if a full argument were not allowed to be laid down until or unless the other party accepted each premise along the way, then we’d virtually NEVER see a full argument put down! You’d never know what anyone intended to argue. And that’s what it can be like listening to the Atheist Experience. And this show was another example of this – anyone unfamiliar with an argument from contingency will have been left no wiser because they never got to hear it.

    And it’s not just more interesting, making for more coherent listening to hear an argument laid out; it’s an important function of debate, persuasion and the possibility of learning. We have to remember there is an audience with likely some people on both sides, and some span in the middle undecided. You need to be aware of the whole argument because it may be the case you think one side has successfully argued for the truth of the premises in question, and if so you can see the conclusion that follows from it. But if you have one side saying “look, it’s MY position I don’t accept your first premise…hence we won’t go on to hearing the rest of your premises” then that’s just a stacking of the deck, a self-selecting squashing of arguments, not letting the audience decide. Imagine a theistic show in which they allowed themselves to stop every atheist argument before the argument was fully presented, on the grounds they rejected…not surprisingly!…some initial premises. You wouldn’t get to hear the atheist arguments, and if it was the case an audience member thought the atheist was making the better case for the premise, it’s not helpful that they wouldn’t have heard the actual structure of the argument to it’s conclusion in the first place!

    I”m not saying that we never here the full argument from an opponent or theist on the show, but this style of arguing premises as they are presented, vs allowing an argument to be laid out and THEN attacking premises, is prevalent enough on the show to have bogged down many a conversation to my great frustration. (And I know I can’t be the only one).

    So again, a plea: let theist guests (or any guest with an argument) lay out the argument first so the audience knows the direction of the argument. THEN this gives a better big picture, a map for the audience, from which you can go to any premise you wish to dispute.

    Steve, the caller, basically had to politely throw in the towel because he say he wasn’t going to get through his point on that day.
    I hope Matt will look into the atemporal versions of the Cosmological Argument at some point to be more ready to engage it (especially as it seems to be getting something of a renewal – Aristotelian Thomistic metaphysics seems to be increasingly defended these days, rising sort of the way Christian Presuppositionalism did in the recent past. The problem is that it seems most of us atheists have been used to arguing with Protestants, who tend to invoke temporal Kalam cosmological and teleological arguments, and hence we are less familiar with classical contingency arguments/arguments from necessity/natures etc).

    (I’d also say that when Matt claimed that you can’t be rationally justified in believing something that can’t be empirically demonstrated, the caller shrewdly asked how that isn’t self-refuting, and I don’t think Matt’s reply rebutted the problem – and that by mentioning necessary assumptions, he inadvertently re-enforced what the caller was pointing out – but that’s another discussion. I bring such things up because sometimes the fans of the show seem to think that Matt and company just squash the theists on the show left and right, that it’s always some sort of miss-match between the theist making clueless arguments and the hosts swatting them down, and this is not a fair impression as sometimes the theists are making good points even if their arguments ultimately fail).

    As I’ve said before: though I have the occasional issue with a show, or a hosts performance, overall they do a great job – a hell of a lot better than I would do in the same position!

  81. Monocle Smile says

    Folks, we really have to hear the arguments. Let a guest lay out the argument and THEN go back to challenge whatever premises you want. That’s how it’s done in philosophy, and debates, for a good reason

    Dude, they have less than an hour a week. This is nonsense. Also, how long have you been watching the show? Loads of these cretins will happily babble for the entire time if allowed to speak unimpeded. I’m not shitting you. Personally, I think that “formal” debates and “philosophy” both do it wrong. The show operates pragmatically, and they’re justified.

  82. Narf says

    @83 – Vaal
    If it’s been a while since you last posted a comment on here, they probably never re-approved you after FTB did it’s major site redesign a few months back. I think the approval list got dumped after that. I recall a bit of that, myself, after the changes went through.

    As for your previous comment:
    The problem is that you have to interrupt the moment someone says something wrong, in the longer, more convoluted theistic arguments. If an argument is dead on premise 1, you have to stop it there, particularly in a verbal discussion of the subject. In text, you can do a more detailed dissection of the whole thing, but wrapping back around in a verbal argument never works well. Half of the time, at the end of an argument, the theist will deny that he/she said what you’re objecting to. You have to object while the memory is fresh, so when the person possibly tries to continue the argument with a modified premise, causing the argument to become disjointed and structurally invalid, you can catch that as it happens.

    Like MS said, this is the problem with formal debates. When presenting something in front of a theistic audience, you have the problem that they’ve been conditioned to gloss over massive logical holes. When presented with the entirety of an argument, all lined up and whole, they’ll ignore the tiny holes that you go back and poke in the argument afterward. Their brainwashing will minimize the impact of the problems you raise.

    When you’re in control of the pacing of the conversation, as they are on TAE, that’s when you have to emphasize that the first gaping hole in an argument kills it.

    If you want to allow an hypothetical stipulation or two, that’s fine, but you have to emphasize each one as you cross it. And after the 3rd or 4th condition that you’re only allowing with that sort of emphasis … what’s the freaking point of going on? You’re firmly into fantasy, at that point. Doing that sort of thing in a text format can be confusing enough, and doing it in a conversation, in real time, is just unmanageable.

  83. Narf says

    As I meant to add onto the end and somehow forgot, I think this is one of those arguments that is more coherently addressed in text form. There are just too many interlocking parts, and pulling them apart and examining them in a conversation, without visual aids, turns into a total cluster-fuck. I don’t think we missed anything particularly exciting.

    This is the case with most of the supposedly sophisticated theology that we hear about but rarely see. It isn’t any more convincing to anyone who doesn’t already believe. It’s just more obfuscatory, allowing the believers to paper over the parts they didn’t understand and convince themselves that they just heard an amazing argument for their faith. The very obfuscation means that you need to move it to a more detail-friendly format than conversation.

  84. robertwilson says

    @vaal

    I have to agree with Narf here. Let someone go on without interruption and you’re “firmly into fantasy” as he said.

    I for one have zero interest in listening to an extensive argument for contingency. If I’m reading, sure, I’ll likely read the whole thing, even if half of it’s a made-up jumble of words that could be substituted by any another words.

    But in a spoken argument I like the way the hosts tackle things step-by-step more often these days. It has been shown very often that if they don’t, you get to the end of the argument, point out one thing earlier on and the person putting forth the argument doesn’t even remember that or says it’s not important, or says “but you agreed” when you just let them talk for the sake of being nice and not interrupting.

    Clearer, shorter conversations are better for the show.

  85. Ernesto A. Jimenez says

    899 episodes already, awesome! So episode 1000 will fall on this year. Hope you guys are planning something special for such an impressive mark.

    I’m from Costa Rica, but I am pretty sure there is a huge Hispanic community in southern USA. Have you guys ever considered casting people to make a show in Spanish? Considering the great amount of hispanics with a moderate Catholic up-bringing, it would be very valuable to have an skeptic point of view in Spanish that would help people get over their superstitions (as the English show has helped me).

    I would love to make something similar locally, but unfortunately it is very expensive to import equipment. (import taxes are weird over here, a video camera pays 14% but a mixer pays 49%). The few Youtube atheist channels we have in Latin America are extremely low budget and normally don’t reach beyond the small group of atheist that have sought them.

  86. says

    I actually like semantic philosophy discussions, not every show, but it’s always good to know the buzz words so you know where someone is headed when they bring them up.

    As for the Christmas “gateway” guy, Matt employs his tiresome argument of bringing up things from his extremist past and from centuries ago when Christians banned Christmas. That has nothing to do with how mainline churches are currently using Christmas. They put on pageants with kids and cute animals and get people in the door, failing to mention that all of that comes from just the word “manger” in the Bible and that they harmonize two contradictory stories. It doesn’t matter that Santa or anything else is not the central tenet, in fact, that’s the point, avoid the stuff about worship and giving yourself to Christ, the stuff that is much harder to hide during Easter, and focus on the coming of love and hope.

    Despite the problems with where Xmas came from or which Christians don’t like it, it has been a marketing tool from the beginning. Why do you think they added on the birth narrative in the first place? To justify Christ’s place as a savior. His 3 years of preaching sure didn’t convince many and getting killed didn’t help.

  87. frankgturner says

    @Lausten North # 89
    Very good, you did something that the caller could not seem to do You provided an example of HOW Christmas might be a “gateway” holiday. Now something good to ALSO have done was to research HOW effective of a marketing tool it has been, how many ARE influenced by the pageants an the like.
    .
    You make a good point though in a way that the caller could not seem to do. I might also point out that the usage of Santa the gift giver as well as Jesus is ALSO a good marketing tool for secular agencies just looking to make money who inadvertently pull attention away from the Jesus story.
    .
    There was something about a review of random people asked what they find most important/memorable about the holidays at Xmastime and like a really small number even mentioning Jesus. And polls like that are done every year. I am not saying that churches don’t use it as a gateway, or at least try, but they don’t seem to be succeeding very well at doing that in the long run.

  88. says

    Thanks frankgturner. Neither I nor the caller claim that Christianity created or managed the Santa myth to create the gateway. If anything, it has gotten out of control for them. It is becoming more of a secular tool. That’s because consumerism and religion use similar techniques. The survey results support my argument, only the hard-core believers mention Jesus as the reason for the season, most think of it as something nice that the Christians gave us but don’t worry much about how it became what it is, that’s the definition of a gateway.

    And that’s where Matt bugs me. The caller didn’t make his case because Matt started in with his, “No…No..” garbage. And he’s very knowledgeable so if I were the caller, I might have given him the respect he deserves, but observing the interaction, I can see Matt was wrong. He treats the show as if he owns it, not as if it is an open forum. He is the host of the day, and he has a right to keep it on track, but he also has an obligation to be sure he is not suppressing the other points of view because that degrades the quality of the show. It’s a fine line I admit, but red flags go off whenever he says, “what about Christians from the year XXXX who did Y?” It’s as logically invalid as quoting a peaceful Bible verse.

  89. frankgturner says

    @Lausten North # 91

    And that’s where Matt bugs me. The caller didn’t make his case because Matt started in with his, “No…No..” garbage.

    If the caller had done his research better he would have been able to give an example of what he meant the way you did and maybe have done some research on it. If there is no research because it is based on something he has observed locally and he does not know how influential it is outside of local observation, that is fine but that can be stated. I don’t know if Matt acts like “he owns it” but I will agree that Matt has gotten rather aggressive at times, most likely in response to certain common arguments (they have put moratoriums on certain repeat arguments before and refused to address them on the show because of things like that). He was probably responding to what he thought the argument would be because he is human and we react to patterns. Why don’t you call into the show when Matt is on and do a follow up? Show Matt that you are not making the same argument and get him off script. They might appreciate it.
    .
    Personally I think that the free market of ideas that is the internet might contribute to the “gateways” like you describe not working as well as Xtians would like them to work.